The artist

(Probably) Celia Thaxter, Appledore Island, Maine

John Thaxter, son of above

Rosemond Thaxter, daughter of above, by descent

Private collection, by descent from above, 1989

Sale, Skinner, Boston, Massachusetts, May 13, 2016, lot 260, from above


Note: Celia Thaxter (1835–1894) was a writer and poet who lived on Appledore Island in the Isles of Shoals in Maine. As the hostess of her father’s hotel, the Appledore House, she entertained many notable literary and artistic personalities such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Morris Hunt, and Childe Hassam. Thaxter’s wildflower garden became an important subject for American Impressionists, who revisited the theme numerous times during summers in the Isles of Shoals. John Appleton Brown, whose visits to Appledore Island often coincided with those of Hassam, was an important member of this creative circle. An invitation from Thaxter attests to Brown’s closeness with the group: “J. Appleton Brown, where are you? There are two young lady pupils down here for you…And J. K. Paine is playing Beethoven sonatas morning, noon and night and my little parlor, divinely, oh divinely!…Are you not coming? It is too beautiful and you ought to be enjoying.”[1]

1. As quoted in David Park Curry, Childe Hassam, An Island Garden Revisited (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990), 30.


Bestowed with the moniker, ‘Apple-blossom Brown,’ John Appleton Brown was a Boston painter known for his bright meadow scenes of apple blossoms and charming cottages. His pastoral imagery, subtle delicacy of tone, and softened treatment of form were inspired by the French Barbizon mode of painting. Brown exhibited at the Paris Salon, the Boston Art Club, the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 where he won a medal. His work can be found at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Addison Gallery of American Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery.

John Appleton Brown (1844–1902)
Celia’s Garden, 1879
Oil on canvas
18⅛ x 24⅛ inches
Signed and dated lower right: J. Appleton Brown .79
+ Enlarged View
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